Husky hap­pen­ing

In 2016, Brian Cat­ter­son, for­mer edi­tor of Mo­tor­cy­clist, was at the CZ World Cham­pi­onships when he de­cided that a Husq­varna ver­sion was needed and sim­i­larly de­serv­ing.

Classic Dirtbike - - Con­tents - Words and pics Norm De­witt

A slight tweak to our archive bit this is­sue as Norm De­witt went Husq­varna crazy and in­fected us too, great meet, great bikes.

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia was the hot­bed for all things Husq­varna in the mid1960s, given the ef­forts of Edi­son Dye, a num­ber of Swedish rac­ers (Lars Lars­son, Gun­nar Lind­strom and Torsten Hall­man) and a few early devo­tees such as Mal­colm Smith. By 1970 the movie ‘On Any Sun­day’ was be­ing made, which upon its 1971 re­lease, ex­ploded the sales for all things Husq­varna at the very end of the four-speed era. Given the above, in March 2017 the Husky World Cham­pi­onship was held at Cahuilla Creek MX Park in the high desert near Anza, Cal­i­for­nia.

Rid­ers ar­rived from all walks of life and all parts of the globe. From the UK ar­rived Team UK, their four-rider ef­fort be­ing pro­vided ma­chines by Tom Con­tino at TMC. The team was also known as Team Nigel Mansell (af­ter the F1 World Cham­pion), be­cause one rider was Nigel Green, and an­other Paul Mansell. They looked like Evel Knievel in their white starspan­gled out­fits, plus hav­ing a union flag on the sleeves.

Ric Field came by way of South Africa. Ric had seen Mal­colm Smith rid­ing a Husq­varna in the 1976 Roof of Africa Rally, Ric im­me­di­ately then get­ting a 250WR to race. For his 60th birth­day, his chil­dren sent him back with 10,000 dol­lars to visit South Africa to pur­sue his other pas­sion, surf­ing. Turned out the Na­tional Scram­bles were there at the time and the lo­cals pro­vided him with a bike, all be­ing 99% sure it was his old race bike, a 1976 250WR (very rare in South Africa). “I nearly fainted when I saw the bike,” ex­claimed Ric. Ric won the 60+ class with it that day – now liv­ing in Den­ver, Colorado, his white/blue al­loy tank 430 is one of the 13 Husq­var­nas he cur­rently owns, not count­ing the vin­tage bikes he ex­ports to the UK.

Some of the rac­ers were highly ac­com­plished, oth­ers were any­thing but. Robb Mesecher brought ISDE ex­pe­ri­ence (1989 Ger­many and 1990 Swe­den) and he had brought an ar­mada of beau­ti­fully re­stored ma­chines, with a rare blue 125WR be­ing one of the nicest bikes in the pad­dock.

Chip How­ell, 1981 ISDE gold medal­ist and for­mer Husq­varna fac­tory rider, brought not only the 390CR he had raced for the fac­tory, but his 1979 sea­son me­chanic Don West was there spin­ning wrenches just as he’d done 38 years be­fore. Chip was to win the 1974 and ear­lier races, sweep­ing both mo­tos with his 1974 400CR.

Pro­fes­sional racer Ben Meza strapped on a Jofa and put on a shock­ing dis­play of style and speed on a 390CR in the 1975 and up vin­tage class. A stroke of luck was that I had brought a trunk full of 390 parts to sell at the event and those parts kept both Chip and Ben run­ning af­ter each had 1st moto me­chan­i­cal fail­ures, Chip los­ing a rear axle nut and Ben los­ing a chain when the swingar­m­mounted guide broke. Think­ing of Wimpy (Pop­eye) for in­spi­ra­tion, I ac­cepted pay­ment from Meza by way of a ham­burger.

There were a few truly spe­cial bikes in at­ten­dance. John Le­fevre of Vin­tage Husky brought his ti­ta­nium-framed bike that had pre­vi­ously had a four-speed en­gine which had been raced by Ger­rit Wolsink. Next to that was an­other orig­i­nal fac­tory rar­ity, a chrome moly race frame bike, this one a 125. Gun­nar Lind­strom had brought his 1957 175cc Sil­ver­pilen Husq­varna that in many ways was a sig­nif­i­cant step in the de­vel­op­ment that ended with the 1969/71 400 cross.

Mega-col­lec­tor and race an­nouncer Tom White pro­vided a very unique 1967 250cc Swedish Army bike that Lind­strom con­firmed was to pro­vide the ba­sis for the later 360 Sports­man. In de­vel­op­ing the 250 Army bike, Gun­nar would ride it the 100 miles to Rolf Tib­blin’s house where the two would train to­gether, and then Gun­nar would ride it home.

The hon­oree of this In­au­gu­ral Husky WC was 1971 US 500cc Cham­pion Mark Black­well. Mark be­ing the first 500cc Amer­i­can cham­pion, achiev­ing this on a Husky 400, it was fit­ting that he would be the first racer hon­oured by this event. The event was a suc­cess and thank­fully the Cal­i­for­nia storm gods de­cided to hold the weather off long enough to al­low the event to pro­ceed dur­ing an oth­er­wise drench­ing win­ter. Long may it con­tinue…

In­spired by a CZ cel­e­bra­tion... why not a Husq­varna one?

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